In warm, sparkling prose that moves easily from English to Spanish and back, Caldecott Honor artist Morales (Viva Frida) traces the journey that she and her small son took in 1994, when they immigrated from Mexico to the United States. (“My Story,” included after the text, supplies the details.) A woman and a child struggle to understand the rules as they explore San Francisco. (When the two play in a public fountain, a policeman approaches, hands on hips; “Ay!” the mother cries in dismay.) Then they discover the library: “Suspicious./ Improbable./ Unbelievable./ Surprising.” It’s a miraculous oasis—countless books to borrow, information about everything in the world. There, she says, “We learned to read,/ to speak,/ to write,/ and/ to make/ our voices heard.” As the languages blend, so do the images. Mexican motifs—a genial skeleton, a painted dog, embroidered flowers—dance through the pages, keeping mother and son company on their journey, and the library shelves swoop and curve, embracing them. (Readers will recognize favorite titles among the carefully painted book covers.) Many books about immigration describe the process of making new friends and fitting in; this one describes what it’s like to become a creative being in two languages, and to learn to love in both. “We are two languages./ We are lucha./ We are resilience./ We are hope.” A Spanish-language version will be published simultaneously. Ages 4–8. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Sept.)
★ "Many books about immigration describe the process of making new friends and fitting in; this one describes what it’s like to become a creative being in two languages, and to learn to love in both. 'We are two languages./ We are lucha./ We are resilience./ We are hope.'"—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
★ "An immigrant's tale steeped in hope, dreams, and love. . . . Details in the art provide cultural markers specific to the U.S., but the story ultimately belongs to one immigrant mother and her son. Thanks to books and stories (some of her favorites are appended), the pair find their voices as 'soñadores of the world.' A resplendent masterpiece."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ "The narrative text is poetic and full of emotion. . . . the mixed-media illustrations are breathtaking, created through painting, drawing, photography, and embroidery. The joyous imagination and intricacy of each illustration will make readers of all ages explore them further. . . . "—Booklist, Starred Review
"Dreamers is a paean to libraries, to reading and writing and creativity, a value statement I endorse wholeheartedly. Dreamers aims for the glorious and the poetic; it's big, passionate, crammed with detail."—The New York Times Book Review
★ "The magical art marries the succinct and powerful narrative in a resplendent celebration of literacy, language, and the transformative power of the picture book form . . . This excellent memoir encapsulates the fears, hopes, and dreams that come along with immigrating to a new place . . . A timely and much-needed selection."—School Library Journal, Starred Review
★ "Every page of Dreamers vibrates with energy, depicting the emotions, the turmoil, the stress and the joy that come with creating a new life."—Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
★ "The gently hopeful text offers its best optimism when rooted in Morales’ own experience. The immersive magical reality of the art is the real glory here; the mixed-media illustrations, including acrylic paint, drawing, and bits of collage, are full-bleed spreads that depict the library as a milieu every bit as startling and novel to the speaker as the U.S. itself."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review
★ "A wise book and, to praise it in its own words, 'resplendent,' an eloquent vision of the 'resilience' and 'hope' of the 'dreamers, soñadores of the world.'"—The Horn Book Magazine, Starred Review
"Morales tells, through illustrations that seem to dance and sing, the story of crossing borders on a bridge of language with her young son. Together they discover picture books and public libraries, and the gifts they brought with them — open hearts, art, poetry and stories — blossom."—The Washington Post, Best Books of 2018
PreS-Gr 3—The acclaimed creator of Niño Wrestles the World and Viva Frida has crafted another masterpiece in this autobiographical picture book. From her son's birth to their move to the United States from Mexico in the mid-1990s to their often fraught- and barrier-filled life, the tale highlights the many obstacles immigrants face while trying to survive in a new country that doesn't readily welcome non—English-speaking people of color. The pair encounters respite at the library where, with the help of librarians, they find a home in the children's section. The dreamlike, lyrical text captures the wonder of childhood, learning, and discovery through books. The magical art marries the succinct and powerful narrative in a resplendent celebration of literacy, language, and the transformative power of the picture book form. Readers will delight in finding Morales's tributes to kid lit classics, new and old, throughout the spreads. The majestic illustrations often incorporate Mexican traditions and mythology and they resound with mythic imagery, speaking volumes about the love and dreams shared between mother and child. Morales explains in an author's note that she and her son are not "Dreamers" in the modern sense—"young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children"—but dreamers in the sense of all immigrants who come to a new country. Also appended are a thorough list of the books referenced in the artwork and a fascinating note on the materials used in the creation of this work, including a nib pen that once belonged to Maurice Sendak, scanned images of Morales's studio floor, her and her son's childhood drawings, and more. VERDICT This excellent memoir encapsulates the fears, hopes, and dreams that come along with immigrating to a new place and building a new life in an unfamiliar and often hostile landscape. A timely and much-needed selection.—Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal
Based on her experience of leaving Mexico for the United States, Morales' latest offers an immigrant's tale steeped in hope, dreams, and love.
This story begins with a union between mother and son, with arms outstretched in the midst of a new beginning. Soon after, mother and son step on a bridge, expansive "like the universe," to cross to the other side, to become immigrants. An ethereal city appears, enfolded in fog. The brown-skinned woman and her child walk through this strange new land, unwilling to speak, unaccustomed to "words unlike those of our ancestors." But soon their journey takes them to the most marvelous of places: the library. In a series of stunning double-page spreads, Morales fully captures the sheer bliss of discovery as their imaginations take flight. The vibrant, surreal mixed-media artwork, including Mexican fabric, metal sheets, "the comal where I grill my quesadillas," childhood drawings, and leaves and plants, represents a spectacular culmination of the author's work thus far. Presented in both English and Spanish editions (the latter in Teresa Mlawer's translation), equal in evocative language, the text moves with purpose. No word is unnecessary, each a deliberate steppingstone onto the next. Details in the art provide cultural markers specific to the U.S., but the story ultimately belongs to one immigrant mother and her son. Thanks to books and stories (some of her favorites are appended), the pair find their voices as "soñadores of the world."
A resplendent masterpiece. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)